Marcel Reece Earns Trip to the Pro Bowl by Redefining the Fullback Position

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystJanuary 21, 2013

Marcel Reece with his Heisman pose.
Marcel Reece with his Heisman pose.Cary Emondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders didn’t have any players selected to the Pro Bowl, but fullback Marcel Reece was the first alternate and would go if Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach couldn’t for some reason. An injury seemed to be the likeliest reason Leach couldn’t go at the time.

As it turns out, Reece will get a free trip to Hawaii, because the Ravens will play in the Super Bowl, having beaten the Broncos and Patriots on the road. Beating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady with excellent supporting casts seemed near impossible just a few weeks ago. Reece is just one of benefactor of the Ravens’ run.

Reece absolutely deserves to go, as he is one of the most versatile fullbacks in the NFL. He continues to prove that the fullback position is not dead, it’s just changing form. Leach is an old-school fullback and was voted in because he is the best blocking fullback in the NFL. Reece is much more versatile.

Reece was no slouch blocking this year, which is an area of his game that was lacking just a few years ago. In fact, he is now one of the better blocking fullbacks in the NFL.

But his strength continues to be as a receiver. Reece caught 52 passes for 496 yards in 2012. According to ProFootballFocus, 347 of those yards came after the catch. He caught more passes than any fullback, and only four running backs caught more.

Reece also proved to be a good ball-carrier when Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both went down with injuries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry on 59 carries. And he averaged 3.4 yards after contact per rushing attempt, according to ProFootballFocus—something that only four running backs with more than 50 carries eclipsed.

Reece had elite company in yards after contract, like Adrian Peterson and C.J. Spiller, but more than anything, he proved that he’s tough to bring down and wasn’t simply a product of good blocking. The Raiders would be wise to give Reece the occasional carry in 2014 and use him in short-yardage situations.

It’s actually a shame the Raiders didn’t use him more, as ProFootballFocus graded him as the second-best offensive player on the team behind left tackle Jared Veldheer. Reece still averaged 7.4 touches per game, which seems like healthy amount for a fullback. But he was so productive with his carries that he left the Raider Nation wanting more.

Reece is a rare triple threat at a position that many believed to be dying. There probably isn’t a player in the NFL who can catch, run and block like him. He’s more that deserving a trip to Hawaii and should be a big part of Oakland’s plan on offense in 2013 and beyond.